Jul 16, 2018
David and Jill do A = (Paradoxical) Agenda Setting with Lee, starting with the Invitation: Jill asks Lee if he wants help with the relationship conflict, and if this would be a good time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Lee indicates that he does want help.
They review the first two steps of his Relationship Journal, where Lee had recorded one specific thing his wife said to him, and exactly what he said next. Here’s what he wrote down:
Step 1 – She said: Write down exactly what the other person said. Be brief:
I was trying to convince my 18-month-old daughter to put her pajamas on. I was calm. Eventually, I raised my voice an octave or two and in a stern voice I told my daughter to put her pajamas on.
Afterwards, Liza said, “I don’t think you need to use that tone with a small child.”
Step 2 – I said: Write down exactly what you said next. Be brief:
I said, “I don’t think there was anything wrong with what I did. You can be stern without losing your shit*. There are times when she needs to know I am serious and not messing about anymore.”
It then devolved into a debate over a clash of values on how to raise our daughter.
* Transcribed as-is from Lee’s Relationship Journal.
Lee also circled all the emotions he thought she was having, along with all of the emotions he was having. He thought she was feeling:
Here’s how he was feeling:
Step 3. Good vs. Bad Communication. When David and Jill ask Lee to examine his response to his wife, he had to admit that his response in Step 2 had all the characteristics of bad communication—he did not acknowledge any of her feelings, he did not share his own, and he did not convey love and respect. This was disturbing and surprising to Lee.
Step 4. Consequences. When David and Jill asked Lee to examine the impact of what he said to his wife, they suddenly ran into a wall of resistance, which is almost universal in relationship work. The Relationship Journal is an incredibly powerful tool, and it can be extremely painful because you have to stop blaming the other person and examine your own role in the relationship.
Lee suddenly and painfully discovered the answer to his question of why his wife was so controlling and critical of him—it was NOT because of the influence of her mother, but rather because he was forcing her to treat him like that almost every time he interacted with her.
This insight cannot be denied when you do the Relationship Journal, and it’s potentially incredibly empowering, but it can be incredibly painful at the same time.
You will also hear a masterful and paradoxical response by Dr. Levitt when Lee resists—and as a result, his resistance suddenly disappears, and he jumps on board!